Salad in a jar? Yes, it's exactly as it sounds. A meal (or side dish) in a jar!
In these fast-paced times, we're always on the hunt for a way to cut meal prep time down and simulataneously increase our intake of nutrients. Behold a simple food trend that just might do the trick for you. Not only do you have a healthy meal that's packable and ready to go, but this method makes it easy to prepare several servings in advance for the rest of your week. When sealed and refrigerated, these salads can keep well for up to 3-4 days! All you need to do is pack your jar, a fork, and a plate or bowl to pour it into when you're ready to eat!
Jar Assembly 101
The sky is the limit with salad in a jar. Your options are limitless as you create balanced meals. Ideally, depending on wether your salad in a jar is a side dish or main meal, you can include some or all components of a healthy meal: healthy proteins, fats, greens, other veggies, and healthy grains, if desired. Some ideas include:
Healthy Proteins: wild-caught fish, high quality beef, pork, or poultry, nuts, seeds, hardboiled eggs, cheese, beans
Healthy Fats: Olive oil-based dressing, olives, nuts, seeds, avocado or guacamole
Healthy Grains, Starches, or Carbs: whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables, fruits
Step One: Select the right wide-mouthed jar. If your salad is a main dish, you might want to aim for a quart-sized jar. A side salad can fit in a pint-sized jar.
Step Two: Your first layer at the bottom of the jar should be several tablespoons of your preferred salad dressing, such as a balsamic vinegarette. (Note that the ingredients most sensitive to getting soggy or mushy, such as greens, will be at the top! Keep your top greens as crisp as possible by separating dressing from top layer as much as possible!) As a plus, when you pour out your salad, the dressing conveniently pours out onto the entire plate. You can also use this first bottom layer for hummus, guacamole, cottage cheese, or whatever sauce you prefer on your salad.
Step Three: This is your harder, less absorbent layer. Lean proteins (such as chicken, turkey, hadboiled eggs, beans, or lentils), hard, firm veggies (such as carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, bell peppers, celery, uncut cherry or grape tomatoes, or cucumbers), and firm fruits (apples, grapes or pears) go here. This is an ideal layer for any ingredients that tend to oxidize (such as avocados or apples) since they come into contact with the acid in the dressing that prevents browning.
Step Four: If you are using any healthy grains or starches, such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes or peas, add them in this layer as well to fortify the barrier between the dressing on the bottom and the greens on the top.
Step Five: Now it's safe to add a layer of softer ingredients that are more absorbable. These include softer fruits (such as berries or figs), softer veggies (such as cooked veggies, chopped tomatoes, or avocado), and cheese.
Step Six: If you're using any crunch add-ons, such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, tortilla strips, or croutons, add them now.
Step Six: Tightly pack in your greens! Add arugula, romaine, kale, mixed greens, spinach, or others. Add them raw or lightly cooked. Aim for at least 1 to 2 cups. The more jam-packed, the better. Why? Because it keeps all ingredients secure in the order of layers and prevents less air from circulating in the jar.